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Materials Lab Workshop: Dissecting Portrait Colors [AT CAPACITY]

A seven-by-two grid depicts various colors representing skin-like tones.
Annette Lemieux, American, Available Portrait Colors, 1990. Oil on canvas. Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Gift of Howard Johnson, Harvard College ’81, in honor of his friend Richard Milazzo, 2012.274. © Annette Lemieux.


Harvard Art Museums
32 Quincy Street, Cambridge, MA, Enter at Broadway for evening programs

This event is at capacity.

This event requires registration; see further details below.

Practitioners of art and medicine are trained to discern fine details and changes in skin coloration. But what even is “skin color”? In this workshop, led by artist and medical student William Shen, we will begin by viewing the exhibition Seeing in Art and Medicine to discuss how representation of skin colors, or lack thereof, has influenced art and medicine throughout history. We will explore the biological origin of skin color and learn how artists recapitulate this process through paint and synthetic materials. Shen will show you how to dissect complex hues into their primary constituents and how to re-create these hues with acrylic paint. You’ll create a small painting inspired by Annette Lemieux’s Available Portrait Colors and mix your own skin color to include as the newest available portrait color.

The hands-on session will take place in the Materials Lab on the Lower Level.

$15 materials fee. Registration is required and space is limited; registration will open on this form, beginning on Thursday, November 2, at 10am. Materials fee must be paid to confirm registration. Please email or call 617-495-1440 to join the waitlist. Minimum age of 14; no previous experience required.

The Harvard Art Museums are now offering free admission every day, Tuesday through Sunday. Please see the museum visit page to learn about our general policies for visiting the museums.

The Harvard Art Museums are committed to accessibility for all visitors. For anyone requiring accessibility accommodations for our programs, please contact us at at least 48 hours in advance.